SOFF presents Rise for Her project in Dowa and Lilongwe

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Shaping Our Future Foundation (SOFF), an organization founded and chaired by Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Malawi, Madam Monica Chakwera, will implement a 6-month Rise for Her project to ignite gender transformative change through community-centered action on the elimination of child marriages and Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Dowa and Lilongwe districts.

The project, which is being championed by African First Ladies through the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), was launched in the Dowa district following reports that child marriages were on the rise in the district.

The Rise for Her is also a response to an outcry that the district has been registering poor performances of students in national examinations, particularly the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations in recent years.

It forms part of year-long Unifying Campaign activities being led by the African First Ladies under the theme ‘We Are Equal; Closing the Gender Gap in Education, Health and Economic Empowerment’.

The Campaign demands unwavering dedication by all sectors now more than ever. “We are Equal” is a rallying cry proclaiming that every Malawian, regardless of gender, deserves equal access to education, health, and economic empowerment.

Speaking during the introduction of the project to the District executive committee (Dec) in Dowa, the organization’s Programs Coordinator, Lawrence Kayesa said the project will be implemented in Traditional Authorities Chiseka and Chitukula in Lilongwe while in Dowa, in Traditional Authorities Dzoole and Chakhaza, respectively.

Kayesa said Rise for Her project has the objective of reducing instances of child marriages and Gender-Based Violence among girls and women, saying the project will increase access to income-generating activities for vulnerable women.

He said the project will also empower and mentor 200 school-going girls under SOFF bursary from impact districts and will mentor 20 teen moms through women’s groups in preparation for readmission into the formal school curriculum.

The coordinator said the project will strengthen community leadership platforms to facilitate community-led advocacy, policy formulation, and implementation aimed at reducing child marriages and Gender-Based Violence.

“The project will conduct community-led advocacy sessions of policy formulation for child marriages and Gender-Based Violence, training of women on business development, planning, and management, among others,” said Kayesa.

On project sustainability, he said the project will collaborate with the District Council for integration of areas in the existing platforms of continued project monitoring and community-led initiative which will promote ownership beyond project tenure.

In his remarks, the District Director of Agriculture for Dowa, Martin Kamlomo, advised SOFF to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the council and the CSO Network to enhance cooperation, transparency, and accountability of projects being implemented in the district.

Rise for Her project is funded by the OAFLAD to the tune of K85 million for the two districts, and will run from March 2024 to August 2024.

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